ClickCease What is Kratom & and what does it do? - Granite Recovery Centers

What is Kratom & and what does it do?

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical tree with medicinal leaves that’s prevalent in Southeast Asia. People also use the leaves for recreational purposes. Typically, kratom contains compounds that have a mind-altering effect. When taken in high amounts, its cells attach to the brain and act as opioid painkillers.

According to the European Monitoring Center for Drug and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), kratom can also boost one’s mood and acts as a stimulant when chewed or drank as tea or coffee. In the United States, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has labeled it a drug of concern even though its use has not been banned. In Florida, the bars sell kratom in the form of a drinkable tea. In other areas, such as Thailand, people mix it with caffeinated soda. Usually, kratom’s effects are way stronger than those of alcohol.

Even though kratom is technically legal, there is a lot of concern about its side effects. The side effects are what make the drug addictive. Even so, doctors believe that it has medicinal benefits. Kratom can be used to treat anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, pain, and many other conditions. However, these claims need more evidence as they are not scientifically proven.

How People Use Kratom

Some people chew the leaves of kratom, which is the traditional method. Others will consume it as a brewed tea. Also, some individuals will use it in cooking to feel its high effect.

Currently, kratom may come in the form of pills. You can also find it in powdered form, and in some cases, it will be crushed and smoked like tobacco.

No matter the method used, the effects of kratom are the same. However, the number of doses you take will determine how much you are affected.

According to the DEA, upon taking the drug, it can take about five to 10 minutes for your body to start feeling the effects. Usually, the high lasts for about two to five hours.

Effects of Kratom

Kratom leaves contain the mitragynine compound. When taken in small amounts, the compound is responsible for increasing a person’s energy levels and alertness. When taken in high doses, kratom may lead to someone having a mental block.

Usually, for it to function, the compound will interact with the opioid receptors in the brain. They will produce the sedative effect, low pain, and pleasure a person experiences when using kratom in high amounts.

Also, a person under the influence of kratom may feel nauseous and develop constipation. Other effects can include:

  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Dry mouth
  • Hallucinations
  • Muscle tremors
  • Increased urination
  • Liver damage

Addiction is also an effect of kratom. It develops slowly any time you take it since you will teach your body how to be dependent on it, especially when you are used to handling large amounts of it.

Is Kratom Safe?

Though most states allow kratom as a legal way of getting high, the drug is not safe. However, you will see people using it and claiming that it is safer than other illegal drugs. You may find it being sold with food supplements. However, following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban on the products containing kratom, it became apparent that there were concerns regarding the drug. Moreover, the FDA cut contracts for the businesses that were selling it. It claims that more research is needed to validate kratom’s medical value.

Kratom’s effects are more or less the same as those of narcotics. There have been reports of people dying after using the drug. Its adverse effects are apparent due to the ban imposed on it in some countries, such as Thailand. In the U.S., the full impact of the drug is yet to be known. However, the notion that it is addictive may be true.

Is Kratom Addictive?

Kratom has opioid-like effects. Usually, this effect, even in other drugs, makes one dependent on it. When one is dependent on a drug, his or her brain learns to function with it. As such, anytime that an individual attempts to stop abusing the drug, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms.

This dependence on the drug develops into an addiction, and the cycle continues. It reaches a point where a person depends entirely on it to carry on his or her everyday activities. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that to prove an addiction to the drug, a person must exhibit drug-seeking behaviors. He or she must also actively keep on using it without worrying about the consequences that may occur.

Some withdrawal symptoms one may experience include:

  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Change in emotions
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle and bone aches
  • Convulsions
  • Aggressiveness

In other cases, a person may develop hallucinations and delusions. Such symptoms will mean that the individual is dependent on the drug, implying that he or she is an addict.

A report from the NIDA shows that people from Thailand who were consuming kratom experienced such symptoms, citing that they must have been addicted to the drug. Typically, when one becomes an addict, he or she has no control over his or her drug use. It may even reach a point where a user becomes obsessed with the drug.

When kratom is used alongside other drugs, such as alcohol, the side effects may intensify. A person may end up using it even when the adverse side effects are prevalent.

What Are the Signs of Kratom Addiction?

One sign that a person is addicted to a drug is a dependence on it. An individual may exhibit social, emotional, behavioral, and physical changes if he or she is an addict. Some of these signs include:

  • Failure to fulfill personal obligations, such as going to work or attending school
  • Social inactivity
  • Relationship issues
  • Spending all one’s money to purchase kratom
  • Depression and changes in mood
  • Suicidal thoughts when trying to withdraw from the drug
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Risky behaviors

Treatment for Kratom Addiction

A kratom addiction, like any other drug addiction problem, has no specific treatment. However, a person can address his or her addiction by attending a professional rehab center, such as Granite Recovery Centers. We provide several treatment facilities located throughout New Hampshire, and like most rehab centers, offer treatment in phases. Depending on the addiction’s intensity, a person can choose to follow the inpatient or outpatient treatment programs.

Inpatient Treatment Program

For this program, you will spend your day in the rehab center for the whole 24 hours. You will receive the necessary care and attention from the available professionals anytime you are in need. Usually, the environment features security and follows a particular structure. There may be sessions during which you meet with a therapist and participate in ordinary meetings with other people fighting the same concern.

You will also have a scheduled time to sleep, eat, and even study. The inpatient treatment program, in other words, offers a safe environment for recovery, especially for someone who is severely addicted to kratom.

Outpatient Program

The outpatient program is more flexible than the inpatient treatment program. In this program, the patient will attend treatment sessions after which he or she will be free to head home or to work. However, one is prone to relapsing because he or she will be facing the real world each day and may come into contact with kratom. This option can be great for someone who isn’t severely addicted and is on the verge of his or her healing journey.

The specific rehab center will determine how the person will be helped. However, most rehabs usually begin with the detoxing phase. The detox program addresses the physical elimination of the drug from the body. It marks the first step on your recovery journey.

The Detox Treatment Program

Medical professionals will wipe the kratom out of your blood system step by step. They will ensure that the withdrawal effects do not hit to the extent where you crave more drugs. It can be risky to go through a detoxing phase with some products. However, the assistance of a medical professional will help mitigate the risks.

Typically, the process will take about five to seven days. However, the duration may vary depending on how dependent you are on kratom, how the withdrawal affects your treatment, and how long you have been using the drug. All in all, detox requires close monitoring by a medical professional to take note of how you are responding to the treatment. The detoxing phase shows the importance of enrolling in an inpatient treatment program because it requires the doctors to be there 24/7 to check on you. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Since kratom has opioid-like effects, you may be required to take some medicine during the detoxing process. The withdrawal symptoms may include depression. Therefore, one may have to take antidepressants, according to the EMCDDA. Also, the organization reports that people may also use anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory medications when detoxing from kratom. For a person who has been using kratom alongside other drugs, the detoxing phase may take a little longer, and the withdrawal symptoms may hit harder.

People may attempt to go through the detoxing process alone. However, it is not a safe option, and the possibility of relapsing is high. You should seek assistance from a professional who can help you safely beat the addiction.

Therapy Program

After you fight through the detox program, you can now enter the second phase of your recovery, the evidence-based treatment program. You can choose from different kinds of therapy sessions. The cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach has proven effective for most people. The therapist will help you determine the negative reason why you are using kratom. Also, he or she will help you fight the notion that you cannot exist without the drug and identify the triggers that make you use it.

With CBT, you will change your attitude toward kratom and eliminate any self-defeating thoughts that contribute to substance use. If stress contributes to your drug use, you will learn other stress-coping mechanisms through CBT. After going through this session, you will learn how to live without depending on the drug.

Counseling Sessions

Counseling is a crucial step to your recovery. Usually, one cannot say that a person is 100% healed from drug use. Therefore, continuous checkups and regular counseling will help keep one on the right track.

The counseling sessions may involve support groups where you get to meet and interact with other people who are struggling with addiction but are on the road to recovery just like you. The good thing about a support group is that it makes you feel like you are not alone in the journey. It gives you more zeal and energy to hold on to your recovery and stay drug-free. You should select a rehab center that offers support groups.

Aftercare Programs

Aftercare programs also play a significant role in ensuring that one is on the right path to recovery. Even after therapy, you still need support. It would help if you were shown how to face the real world without the trigger for relapsing. Enrolling in aftercare services is a good way to ensure that you stay on the right path as you transition. Usually, you can attend the program as you continue with your everyday life.

To sum up, the notion that kratom is legal in the United States is wrong. Also, its side effects are more or less the same as those of other drugs. When you realize that you or your loved one is addicted to it, you should seek professional help. Trying to detox alone may worsen your situation. Also, the addiction treatment for each person may vary. Ensure that you contact a certified rehab center, like Granite Recovery Centers, to get the correct treatment for your particular needs.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.